Written By Shelley Pearl, New Zealand
The standard answer I have on hand whenever people inquire about my single status is that I have not met Mr Right.
Which is partly true, because at the moment, I have no idea where Mr Right might be. But the truth is, I promised myself I did not want to be involved with someone who would draw me further away from God. So, the season of singleness I am in right now is by choice.
When my ex-boyfriend broke up with me several years ago, I decided it was best to consciously spend the next few years of my life being single so I could mentally and emotionally heal before embarking on another relationship.
He was not a Christian, and while he respected my religion enough for me to attend and volunteer in church, he always showed a bit of resistance whenever I asked if he would go to church with me.
In a way, I was leading a double life when I went out with my ex. On one hand, I was worshipping God and reading the Bible, but on the other hand, I was unequally yoked with a non-believer (2 Corinthians 6:14).
At that time, I justified it by telling friends and acquaintances that I was not a religious fanatic, and besides, I have met Christians whose behaviour were a lot more deplorable than non-Christians. I concluded with much gusto that there was nothing wrong with dating a non-Christian.
When the inevitable happened between me and my ex-boyfriend, I was angry, but I also figured it was God’s way of saying He had enough with my double life.
Now, I am going to admit that staying single in this season has not been easy, and there are times when I have a little grizzle with God about why He would put suitable men before me, only for me to find out that they’re not Christians or even if they were, they were only Christian in name.
“It does seem a bit mean of you,” I told God, but I would soldier on as I did not want to go back to my old double life.However, there was a period of time when I faltered and signed up on various online dating sites, thinking Mr Right was just one click away.
Because deep down, I do want to get married one day. I do want to have someone I can spend the rest of my life with—and the idea of still being single when I turn 50, surrounded by cats, is rather terrifying.
Eventually, I did find someone online, and things went rather well in the beginning. I thought he was smart and funny, and for a minute I thought, “Right, this is it! I have found someone!” He was not a Christian, and had told me he did not think the church should have any say in our personal lives.
But in my weak, flesh-centred moment, I thought, “Oh well, no one’s perfect.” Luckily for me, my dad saw signs that the guy was more than met the eye, and advised me against continuing with the relationship. So, to my dismay, I ended it.
By now you might be wondering, “Gee, why is she so fixated on not straying away from God? Surely God is able to call her back if she’s gone too far.”
But it is more than just having God call me back once I have strayed. For me, my relationship with God is a sacred one. I want to have an intimate relationship with God, which I felt was really hard to do when I was going out with someone who did not share the same faith.
For me, a person who says they “respect my religion” is nothing more than a spectator. They are happy for me to do my churchly activities, but their stance changes when it comes to my stand on pre-marital sex or co-habitation before marriage.
And can I honestly say I love God and seek His word if I am doing the direct opposite? I do not want to walk away from a God who loves with an everlasting love (Isaiah 54:8) and who has promised to meet my every need (Phillipians 4:19) for a man whose love for me might be superficial and fleeting.
Yes, God loves us even though we fall away, but I personally feel the damage done and the work needed to mend ourselves can be long and painful. It is a pain I would rather avoid on the outset.
I also believe God has my best interest at heart, and if His will for me is to get married, I trust He will provide me with the right person in due time.
And I imagine the spouse that He has for me will be a guy who truly loves God, someone who shows the fruit of the Spirit, such as love, kindness, forgiveness (Galatians 5:22-23).
He will also be someone who knows love is not the warm, fuzzy feelings we all feel at the beginning of a new, exciting relationship. Rather, he will be someone who perseveres in love, is not self-seeking or keeps no records of wrong (1 Corinthians 13:4-8), and he will love me as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25)
Having said that, I have also learned to accept that if God’s better plan for my life is to remain single, and to carry out His works like Paul did, preaching the Gospel to every part of the world, then I am also happy to be that vessel. Even if it means sacrificing the dream of walking down the aisle and spending my life with the person I love.
If you’re still single like me, maybe society and family pressures have you wanting to get hitched as soon as possible so you can start filling your social media feed with your engagement news, followed by wedding photos and snaps of your first child’s sonogram. But can I just encourage you in your season of singleness to really press in on God, to draw in closer to Him, and not trade this season for just any guy to fill an empty void. I want you to know that God’s best plan for you will be just that—simply the best, not a cheap substitute.